Thursday, September 22, 2011

12 September 2011

So I have big news: Djobo is going to Arusha, Tanzania for an international savings groups summit! He received a scholarship covering the $350 registration fee, his flight, housing, meals, etc. from the MasterCard Foundation of Canada. You can read more information about the summit HERE.

Other than that, projects are picking up and heating up! I have a big wad of cash sitting in my bedroom waiting to begin my latrine project, but have to wait until Djobo comes back from Tanzania to start.

I’m working on a project called Education des Patrons pour l’Amelioration de leur Travail (EPAT) because Togolese people love long, drawn out names with acronyms. I’ve talked about in previous posts, but it’s a six part series on basic business skills – SWOT analysis/feasibility study; strategic planning; marketing; accounting; financing options for business expansion; and technology. The artisans pay a small fee (about $1) to participate in all 6 classes. This helps me the cover cost of photocopies, transportation for teachers, certificates, and a celebration party. Certificates are a really important part of Togolese culture. Instead of resumes, they have a book full of all the certificates they received through completing specific work or trainings.

I’m hoping to start a Women’s Health Club in Pagala. The idea started when I volunteer told me about her idea to teach village women about nutrition and give them cooking classes/recipes on cooking 6 fully balanced meals. From there, I want to teach them about sexual health, importance of an active lifestyle (we’ll do running/pilates together), hygiene, gender equality, volunteerism, malaria, importance of going to the hospital NOT a traditional healer, diarrhea, and options in the fields like natural pesticides and composting.

Organization is underway for the 2012 Centrale Region Women’s Wellness and Empowerment Conference! It was done last year by an amazing team of PCVs in the Plateaux Region and they are expanding it to be nationwide this year. Two other girls and I are organizing it for our region and can’t wait to get the conference underway. It will be March 15-18 in Sokode. The subjects we definitely want to touch on include family planning, budgeting, nutrition, etc. More information to come!

As always, continuing the work with my Village Savings and Loans groups. I currently have 7 groups and just met with 2-4 possible new groups! I’m also going to pick up my work with the microfinance, URCLEC, because I haven’t been there much lately. School is starting back October 3, and along with that comes Peer Educators, English Club, and possibly a couple of new girls’ clubs.

As I said, staying busy! Just got back from Ghana with my boyfriend. We had an amazing time eating all kinds of food we haven’t had in a year! We ate Thai, Chinese, Italian, Sushi, Indian, and even KFC fried chicken. We discovered a cool little bar right on the ocean, got dressed up for happy hour cocktails, and went to the mall. It felt like real life.

I’ll leave you with a Togo story: It’s been pretty chilly lately since it’s rainy season, so I like to heat up shower before my bucket showers. I hadn’t washed my hair in a couple of days so I filled up my bucket to the brim in preparation for a long, warm “shower.” Earlier that day, I had bombed my latrine with insecticide because of this awful cockroach problem I’d been dealing with. As I dipped my hair into my bucket I hear the cat outside the shower door getting a little frisky. I figured he was just playing with a lizard as usual. He wasn’t. He was batting around a huge, flying cockroach who scurried right into my shower to escape John Galt’s killer claws. I flipped out a little, pulled myself together, ran out of the shower naked, grabbed my broom and repeatedly slammed it down on the cockroach until I was sure it was dead. I swept it away and continued my peaceful shower. I’ve come so far!